Two parties are going head to head in a town council by-election
Labour and the British National Party are to fight for a seat on Dalton Town Council. Dan Martin, for Labour, and Mike Ashburner (pictured left, in the sexy T-shirt), Furness and South Lakeland BNP organiser, were the only two nominations received by last Friday’s closing date. The by-election is set to take place on December 10. The vacancy arose when former Dalton mayor Dermot O’Connor left the town to be nearer his family in Wigan.
Dalton town councillor Bill Bleasdale – who represents the Tories on the borough and county councils – says the town council is usually apolitical. He said: “Normally someone is co-opted straight onto the town council but ten voters can declare a by-election. Anybody from any political party can stand in a democracy. It is disappointing that there aren’t any more candidates showing an interest. The public has got disillusioned with politics nationally which is why the BNP got representation on the European Parliament. They are a protest party.”
Mr Martin, who lives in Dalton and teaches at George Hastwell School on Walney, urged voters to send a message to the BNP that “their nasty brand of politics is not welcome in this town.”
The Ulverston-born 33-year-old, whose father was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Cartmel, said: “Like everyone here, I am very proud of Dalton – and I want to fight for a fair deal for the residents here. Dalton needs a hardworking town councillor who lives here and cares about the issues that matter to families. I think the last thing we need is someone coming here and trying to use our town council to stir up trouble.
“The British National Party care nothing about the concerns of people here – they just want to whip up tension and division. Huge damage would be done to our community if we elected a member of a party that judges people because of what they are and not who they are. I believe that I can represent your interests, and send a message that says Dalton is still a welcoming town.”
Mr Ashburner, from Barrow, who admitted he has no links with Dalton, said it was the BNP’s policy to go for any vacancies that come up. He denied the party was out to cause trouble. Mr Ashburner said: “My main aims are to tackle anti-social behaviour and clean up the streets. I noticed walking around just how much rubbish there was. My other main problem I aim to tackle is the Islamification of Dalton. There are proposals to build a mosque in the area and they are currently looking for plots. I am going to make sure there is not a mosque built in Dalton.”
Cumbria County Council spokesman Gareth Cosslett said the council knows of no current plans to build a new place of worship in Dalton. He said : “Nothing is being built locally. The only thing that happens every Friday afternoon is one room in the Multicultural Centre in Barrow is used by Muslims as a prayer room. The rest of the week it’s used to teach English and a variety of other things. The whole point of the centre is to connect people and help them with social issues.
“The county council isn’t aware of anyone wanting to build a mosque in Dalton or anywhere nearby – but we’re not the planning authority. Our view would be that if they did, they would have as much right to build it as anyone would to build a church.”
North-West Evening Mail